A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman opened up a new way of thinking for my children. The premise of this book is that everything is a house for something else, everyone has a house of their own, and that the world is where we all belong. Thinking of earmuffs, books, and castles all as houses was intriguing and fun. We had a great time continuing to think of other houses and their occupants after we finished this book and during the entire family meal which followed!
Pros: A fun way to teach children to look at the same item from various perspectives.
Cons: One page discussed four types of homes used by Native Americans. While this was interesting and something I wanted my girls to learn, I did not like how it was presented. On the preceding page all of the home inhabitants mentioned are animals, while on the following page they are modes of transportation, and no other homes for humans are discussed other than on this page. To me this seemed to dehumanize Native Americans. Usually I can easily overlook this type of issue or see it as a view common in the era of the book, but not so in this case. Still, overall, this book is worth reading and this one page could easily be skipped.
Age Range: 3-8
The Thanksgiving Story written by Alice Dalgliesh and illustrated by Helen Sewell is certainly one of the better children’s books with which I am familiar that recount the story of the Pilgrims’ and Indians’ first day of giving thanks together, along with the events leading up to that famous occasion. Historical fiction, this 1955 Caldecott Honor book follows a family with four children through this time in history. While I love that the emphasis is on giving thanks to God, I was disappointed with an incorrect definition of “Pilgrims” early in the book. I believe the author could have applied her definition more correctly to the term “Puritans” and called all of the travelers, regardless of their reason for pursuing a life in America, “Pilgrims.”
1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” – Every other page is illustrated with vibrantly colorful, simple depictions of the story. The alternating pages are outlined with interesting, rust-colored block figures and drawings.
2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – I appreciate that the illustrator chose to accurately picture the story, including the clothing and food.
3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”- These pictures are stylistically appropriate for the era of the story.
4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – All of these characteristics are clear through the pictures except for mood. From what I understand of Puritan culture, though, this lack of emotional display would have been typical.
5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book and asked lots of questions about the story. I would recommend this book to remind families of the true reason for our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.